Review By Gabrielle

Daniel continues his reign as one of my favourite mystery authors with his latest book, High Society.

Favourite Quote:

Clients often ask, particularly members of this group, how it’s possible to treat addiction using psychedelics. Aren’t you just substituting one habit for another? is the common refrain. But Holly always takes the time to explain how psychedelic agents like ketamine, MDMA, or even LSD represent a different class of medication, which works differently on the human brain. How, despite the recreational use and abuse of LSD, it was still the most widely studied psychiatric drug in the 1960s. How it showed more promise for treating alcoholism than any drug has before or since. And how, unlike other psychiatric medical treatments, such as antidepressants, psychedelic therapy is limited to a finite number of sessions over weeks to months.

Goodreads Synopsis: 

At sixteen, Holly Danvers barely survived the car accident that killed her father. While she has no memory of the crash, it took an ayahuasca treatment, a native plant-based psychedelic therapy, in the jungles of Peru for her to emotionally recover. Twenty years later, Holly is a sought-after psychiatrist determined to use her expertise with psychedelics to treat patients suffering from addictions. Ignoring the risks, she embarks upon an unproven new protocol with miraculous results. But her success in probing the traumas of her patients and the secrets they keep is short-lived.

When one celebrity client goes public with his recovery and another overdoses after accusing Holly of improprieties, her world is turned upside down. With her career on the line, Holly reaches out to her mentor—and estranged husband—Dr. Aaron Laing, for advice and comfort. But he has a different agenda, and it soon becomes clear that it will be up to Holly alone to figure out why her clients are relapsing and dying. To accomplish that, she will have to risk her life and revisit her own deep-seated trauma.

I’m such a fan of Daniel’s books. I just find them so different from many of the other books on the market in the mystery/thriller genre. You could call his work “medical mysteries,” perhaps, because each has a medical basis for the plotline. I really enjoy his books because I always learn something, and they make me think. In High Society, Daniel introduces us to the world of therapeutic psychedelics and what a fascinating world it is!

Dr. Holly Danvers is a wonderfully constructed character. She genuinely cares about her patients, and her passion for psychedelic therapy is catching. After her own experience with them as a teenager, she has dedicated her career to helping others. Readers are along for the ride as she takes a group of seven clients through an experimental new protocol, mixing two psychedelics. These aren’t just any clients. They are all high-functioning addicts, and a few of them are somewhat famous. Over the course of their treatment, the seven clients have become quite close and have formed a “tribe.” One of the clients has a “bad trip” and then accuses Holly of impropriety and then overdoses. Things start to get wild after that. 

Complicating matters is Holly’s relationship with her ex-husband Aaron. He’s not only her ex; he’s also her mentor and one of her biggest supporters, professionally and personally. He has different views on the work Holly is doing and different motivations. I liked how we get chapters from his perspective as well as Holly’s, and then a few from the view of her clients. It helped really flesh out the story.

I mentioned earlier that Daniel’s books feel different from a lot of what is on the market. Part of that is the sub-genre, but part of it is his writing style. You know how many thrillers are sort of dark, gritty and claustrophobic? Daniel’s books aren’t like that. I’ve been trying to think of how to describe them, and the best thing I can come up with is clean. The plots are tight and superbly constructed. Maybe it’s because of the medical angle, but I want to say they are delivered with surgical precision. And I mean all that in the very best way. I think Daniel’s books fill a big void in the market. Sometimes, I don’t want something gritty, but I don’t want a bumbling, cozy mystery, either. I want what Daniel delivers. 

Daniel’s Kalla’s High Society is a terrific thriller with a smart premise and even smarter characters that made me think.

Thank you, Simon & Schuster, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.